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Hillsborough County Commission approves $4.9 billion budget

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Commission passed a $4.9 billion budget Thursday night for fiscal year 2017 that leaves the property tax rate unchanged.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham was the lone vote against the budget and countywide millage rates. County residents within the city of Tampa will pay a millage of 5.7926, or about $5.79 for every $1,000 in property value, in addition to city property taxes. In unincorporated Hillsborough County, residents will pay a total of $10.75 per every $1,000 in property value.

Commissioner voted Sept. 9 to earmark an extra $35 million of the budget to transportation and increase that amount by $5 million every year for the next decade. That means about $600 million over the next 10 years will be spent repairing roadways, sidewalks, bridges and intersections.

About $14.1 million of that transportation money was previously allocated to other expenses in the county budget, said Commissioner Kevin Beckner. He cautioned the board to find new recurring sources of revenue instead.

"The critics will call this a shell game," Beckner said. "We shouldn't be taking money from other areas."

The budget also includes $5.7 million for Carrollwood and Nuccio Park improvements, $350,000 for a pilot ferry program connecting downtown Tampa to downtown St. Petersburg and $7.1 million for expanded services in the County's Indigent Health Care Program.

Editors Note: An earlier version of this story has been changed to correct an error about next year's tax rate.